Frequently asked questions about volunteering for Ara Manzanillo
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- Daily food preparation and feeding for both the pre-release chicks inside aviary and supplemental feeding of the released flock via raised hanging feeders;
- Regular site maintenance including daily cleaning of aviary, providing perches and enrichment for captive birds and various other tasks as necessary;
- Participate in attending daily tourists or other site visitors;
- Monitoring the health and behavior of captive and released birds;
- Different tasks may be assigned depending on our current needs and the skills and abilities of particular volunteers, such as hand feeding young chicks inside our infirmary;
- Fieldwork: depending upon the season this may include going into the forest, tree climbing assistance to monitor and repair nest sites, if you have the required skills;
- Collecting or foraging for natural foods, including beach almonds and mountain almonds;
- Volunteers also assist with the education and outreach activities as needed.
- Please check the Costa Rica Tourist Visa requirements for your country. Generally, you will be able to stay up to 90 days in Costa Rica on a tourist visa. If you are staying longer you can renew this visa for an additional 90 days by leaving the country for 3 days (we are very close to the Panama border and most volunteers chose this option). We can help you make arrangements if a trip is necessary. Make sure that your passport is up-to-date and valid for at least 6 months after entry to Costa Rica.
- o If you travel by air, you should fly into San José International Airport, (SJO). Depending upon your arrival time to San José, you might have to overnight in San José and travel to the project on the next day. The public bus transportation cost from San José to the site is about $22. There are several other options available including tourism vans small planes. Once you have confirmed your stay, we will send you more detail travel options and instructions. There are very many hostels and hotel options close to the bus station or airport if you stay overnight in San José upon arrival.
- Having medical/travel insurance is required.
If you take any medication, make sure to bring enough with you for your stay or confirm that it will be available in Costa Rica. Let us know if you have any special medical condition or allergies that we should be aware of. There are small clinics close relatively close to the station in case of emergencies.
- Costa Rica is generally safe and you are unlikely to have any serious problems. However, petty theft is becoming more common. Be careful with your personal belongings, do not leave them unattended while traveling.
- At the station, accommodations are rustic and basic. The Ara Manzanillo Station is located in Limón Province, along the South Caribbean coast. There is a two-bedroom cabin with a shared bathroom and a kitchen for 3 people.
- Since the site is located in a remote area some distance from the main towns, social life is limited. If you are looking for a very active social life, this is probably the wrong project for you.
Basic general food supplies for the week are purchased once a week at the nearby town. If you need to get a specific thing for your dietary requirements or want to buy personal treats you probably can find them in Puerto Viejo. You will likely spend $60-75 per week, depending on your habits and dietary requirements. There are also mini-markets closer to the site where you can also purchase most things. All staff and volunteers are expected to cook and do dishes. Eating in restaurants gets expensive as taxes and services bring up prices, however, we do have excellent and diverse restaurants in the area.
- Closed shoes, lightweight hiking or walking shoes with treads are best
- Rubber boots (available nearby), socks
- Sunscreen and insect repellent (locally available)
- Waterproof light jacket or poncho, especially for rainy season
- Dry bag or Ziploc bags
- Informal clothing for warm weather - shorts and tank tops/t-shirts that you don’t mind getting stained. You will be able to do laundry, so best to travel light! We supply uniform t-shirts.
- Long light-weight field pants, light-weight long-sleeved shirt.
- Sweatshirt or sweater, light sweat pants or leggings – can get chilly at night
- 1 set of nicer clothing for special occasions
- Swimwear, hat and sunglasses
- Garden or work gloves (we can provide)
- Light weight bed sheets and pillow case (we provide pillow, sheets and blanket, so this is only if you prefer your own)
- Camera/phone- battery and charger- there are continuous great photo opportunities
- Tablet or smart phone and adaptor if necessary for use with 110v US outlets
- Binoculars (we have some)
- Flashlight/head torch with extra batteries
- Prescription drugs if needed
- Entertainment, like games, books or sketchpad
- Ear plugs, if you are a light sleeper – macaws and other jungle noises can be loud!
Bring your own laptop if you wish, but take into account that humid conditions require special care.
There is no need to travel with large amounts of cash. There are banks and ATMs in most towns that accept the major international cards such as Visa or Mastercard. Do not use the ATM at SJO airport as sometimes they are rigged to copy your info. Make sure your credit or debit card is activated to make international withdrawals, please check with your own bank before traveling! Please have photocopy of passport for day to day out and about and bring original passport for bank transactions.
In order to confirm your participation, you should follow these steps:
- Make the payment for at least one month ($300) of your stay. You can pay through PayPal here or wire transfer to our Costa Rican bank, provided upon request)
- Send us a copy of your air or bus travel ticket receipt and itinerary;
- Provide emergency contact information and proof of medical travel insurance.
We will reserve your space for the indicated dates once we determine that you are fully committed to the project by receiving this information.